Grammar Challenge

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4 thoughts on “Grammar Challenge”

  1. Ben, ha, ha, this quiz is super easy for a Latinist. This is what we have been trained to do with Latin for most of our education. Talking about verb tenses in this way comes second nature to us. So many students–who care about this sort of thing and think it means they know Latin–will say they could never get English grammar until they took Latin. I’m not defending the heavy emphasis on verb conjugating in Latin–just saying if you’ve been doing that for most of your career, as I have, grammar gymnastics is easy and even fun in a nerdy way, and helps students who may be called upon to do this in English or another language they study.

    Of course, even if you can get everything on the quiz right, that’s not why you are a fluent English speaker, just as Latin students may be able to parrot paradigms of verbs without being able to pick up something in Latin and read it easily without a laborious decoding process that isn’t reading.

  2. Points taken. Where is the Latin teaching profession these days in terms of wanting to teach their students how to speak Latin? Probably not much has changed…? I know that Latin Best Practices started rolling over ten years ago, but is it still the domain of the few like John Piazza and Bob Patrick?

    1. I’d say the state of Latin overall is lagging behind in the change over to CI/TPRS. Most people give me a blank look if I mention TPRS. There are some stellar examples out there of Latin teachers coming on board, but the vast majority, not so much. There’s a big trend in classical language textbooks to include a running story as they explain the grammar, but the stories don’t give nearly enough repetition of the language to count as CI. They are basically grammar books with a not-very-interesting story tacked on, with the claim that they are making peace between the grammar-translation camp and the nature/direct method proponents. “Best of both worlds” their authors claim. The ones more truly dedicated to CI use the Nature method textbook Lingua Latina per se Illustrata: Familia Romana, which is one long story told in 35 chapters, with each chapter increasing in language complexity. It’s not pure CI, certainly not NTCI, but much better than anything else on the market. This is what I teach from, but I’m seeing its limitations after my exploration of TPRS this summer. It still is very good at developing reading proficiency and students enjoy it. The situation is improving as far as reading material at beginning and intermediate levels, but most teachers start trying to force students to read the ancient authors too soon, who are way above the level of students who have only studied a few semesters. So students can’t read Latin–they are taught coping strategies for the fact that they can’t read it (per Justin Slocum Bailey). Latin still has a long way to go; but so do other languages, too. Other names besides Piazza and Patrick would be Justin Slocum Bailey, Keith Toda, Lance Piantaginni, Andrew Olimpi ( to give you an idea who’s out there in Classics that I know of.

      1. I’m glad to read this in such detail. My evaluation, based on what you say above and the silence of recent years, is that the big 2010 explosion of Latin/TPRS is like a deflated balloon. It just happened a few years after the modern language TPRS loud boom of around 2006-2007 followed by its whimper now (bc it can’t make a clean jump away from traditional thinking).

        Oh well. Thanks for this description. I’ve always thought that the entire change will take from 50 to 75 years. But I DO think that it will eventually happen. We will eventually learn how to teach using the language in language classrooms, and slowly, one teacher at a time, comprehensible input will outlast the petrified and rust-covered dullness that traditional teaching still is now, esp. glaringly so as a result of the changes imposed by COVID.

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